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Blackout in Botswana, Is it a warning for South Africa?

Ml Muhammad Bham |
10 May 2023 | 16:00 CAT
3 min read

Photo Credit: South African

Botswana on Monday suffered a total blackout, and there are real fears that South Africa is not far behind.

This comes at a time when soldiers have been deployed to protect Eskom power stations across the country, and the entity is trying to figure out how to deal with a court ruling stating that schools, hospitals, and police stations must be exempted from load shedding.

Botswana is much smaller than South Africa, with only one central power station: Morupule, a coal power station. A trip to the power station saw the entire country immediately go into a blackout.

Botswana has some alternative sources inside the country and receives electricity from outside the country, but most electricity comes from Morupule.

By lunchtime, part of the coal station was back online and by Tuesday, most of the electricity supply around the country was restored.

In contrast, South Africa has many more power stations, so if faced with a similar situation, load shedding would be implemented, increasing in stages until the situation eases.

If no load shedding and a power station trips to the extent where the demand exceeds the supply, and immediate action is not taken by instituting load shedding, it will gradually start tripping all the other stations in the country until, eventually, there is a complete blackout. Bringing the electricity back up is a long process.

In Botswana, it took them two days to get a single station running again, but if the same thing were to happen in South Africa, where all our power stations trip, it would take South Africa as long as two weeks to get everything back online.

As long as the situation is managed correctly and the correct stages of load shedding are implemented, a total blackout is unlikely in South Africa. A total blackout will only happen in South Africa if there is instability in the grid caused by the demand exceeding the supply.

When such a situation arises, Eskom immediately ups the stages of load shedding. Given that the demand for electricity in winter is higher, demand increases bringing on higher stages of load shedding.

The University of Johannesburg Professor Hartmut Winkler said that he suspects that at some point this winter, South Africans will experience Stage 8 load shedding.

All indications are that the country’s energy problems are deepening.

Listen to the full interview on Sabahul Muslim with Sulaimaan Ravat here


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